April 29th, 2014 by Karen
One of the hazards of having a lot of rain and then beautiful sunny weather is that all the things that I don’t want taking over my garden suddenly grow like…well…weeds. You see all the lovely weeds in the picture above? That’s only two days worth of growth. Two. Days. Today is Tuesday and my husband mowed them down on Saturday. And before you protest that the weeds look too tall to have been mowed just a scant two days ago, I’d like to point out that the tall stuff is an insidious invasive plant called Johnson Grass. It can grow to 8 ft tall and a single plant can produce more than 80,000 seeds. Oh, and it also grows back from the smallest piece of root and can grow several inches OVERNIGHT. Evil.
Now, I know that one of the options I have to kill all the weeds is RoundUp. But, I’ve kinda become a Monsanto hater (yeah, they make RoundUp, pest resistant plants that kill livestock, aspartame (that’s in NutraSweet, fyi), and in the past? They were the parent company that made this incredibly effective herbicide called Agent Orange.), so I’m not too interested in putting that stuff anywhere my family is hanging out and certainly not near the food I’m planning on eating. So, I’ve been looking for a better solution.
I came across a pin that took me to the amazing blog A Garden for the House with a fantastic post about how to keep your garden weeds down without the use of all the nasty toxic stuff. Bonus? I already had it in my house!
Over the past couple of years, I’ve started to use vinegar more and more for cleaning and disinfecting. Microwave a mess? Heat up vinegar and water and steam the caked on gunk off. Washing machine funky in a bad way? Add vinegar to your next load. There are so many great uses for simple things like vinegar, salt, baking soda and lemon juice that I’ve found that I’ve stopped using some of the more harmful things that I used to use. So I was definitely happy to find a weed solution that was vinegar based.
Essentially, the post calls for you spray your weeds with straight vinegar. That’s it. Now, I’m pretty sure that this would do a fantastic job on the crabgrass and other odds and ends weeds infesting my garden, but that Johnson Grass is a beast. So I did a little more searching and ended up using the following:
- 1 gallon white vinegar (5% acid)
- 1/2 Cup salt (I don’t want anything growing back, so I don’t care if I salt the ground…if you’re just killing weeds to plant something else DO NOT ADD SALT)
- 1/4 Cup dishsoap
I mixed it all up in my watering can, watered the offending area at 8am this morning and here’s what it looked like at 4pm this afternoon:
I can’t wait to see what it looks like by tomorrow!
April 29th, 2014 by Karen
There’s little more satisfying than starting the garden every year. It’s the sign that we’ve shuffled off winter and most of the dreary overcast days that seem to hang on interminably.
This year, we finally planted our third planter box. We built all three boxes two years ago and have planted them in stages the past couple of years. The first year, we planted lettuce, spinach, beans, eggplant, cilantro, celery, and zucchini. Everything grew, but we discovered that the lettuce and spinach were more hassle than they were worth…fighting off invaders was irritating and the slugs destroyed more than we actually ate. So the second year, we skipped the leafy greens while planting two of the boxes. In the first, we planted bell peppers, chili peppers, squash, a striped zucchini, and basil. For the second box, we decided to try our hands at cantaloupe and watermelon. Everything was a success, except the zucchini and squash which had the worst yields I’ve ever seen. Normally with just a plant or two, anyone would be drowning in zucchini, but I think all season we had 3. That’s it.
In selecting plants for this year, we returned to a tried and true zucchini variety, along with the same selections of squash, basil, bell and chili peppers as last year. We missed the eggplant from two years ago so we re-added that and while the beans grew well, we decided to plant peas instead. We added two varieties of tomatoes this year too. I’m the only one that likes them raw, so I only planted one heirloom variety, and I planted three Roma tomatoes specifically for canning as we use a LOT of tomato sauce and paste through the year.
We also planted one of my most favorite things, strawberries! I’ve always loved these sweet little packages of spring deliciousness wrapped in bright red. When I was little, every morning before I had breakfast, my mom would hand me a bowl and send me out the back door to rifle through our two massive strawberry beds for ripe berries. We’d cut them up over Cheerios or Rice Chex and the leftovers my mom would turn into freezer jam. Sometimes, she made homemade strawberry shortcake or paired them with a homemade angel food cake.
When we first moved to this house, we planted a row of strawberries, and they were good for a season, but after that the quality was terrible and it was very disappointing. I’m very optimistic about this year’s crop though for two reasons: we’ve planted them in a raised bed which so far has kept them pest free and we planted Sequoias which are a very hearty variety. Plus, we’ve had the plants in for about two weeks and we’re already getting delicious fruit!
Later this week, we’re planting pumpkins as part of a project of a friend of mine to see if the pink pumpkin she grew last year will breed true. I’m super excited!